We made it to Japan! We rented a car with our friend Edwin and embarked on a road trip around Kyushu, Japan's southern most island. Our first day was very eventful. First, our short flight over was delayed from 3pm until 2:45am (damn you cheap airlines)! After about two hours of sleep, we arrived in Fukuoka. We checked into our hotel for a few more hours of sleep. Waking up about five minutes before our check out time and we had just enough time to throw on some clothes before there was a knock on our door. It was the hotel manager asking us in Japanese to do some sort of interview (we quickly discovered that almost no one speaks English in the south of Japan). We hesitantly consented and found ourselves ambushed by a full news crew with cameras rolling. With bags under our eyes, I think we gave an interview about our opinions on the hotel not serving dinner? It was a very confusing but funny experience.
That out of the way, we knew Japan was going to be a good time. We spent the next few days in our rental car exploring quaint towns and villages. We enjoyed a gondola ride and an impromptu two hour hike to a temple on a mountain. It is amazing how similar to New Zealand this area of Japan is. We spent one day (Edwin's birthday!) eating our way through a beautiful mountain town and perusing the unique shops full of anime, hello kitty, and chop sticks.
One of my favorite parts about Japan is the public bath houses. Everywhere we stayed they had these mini spas that are separated based on gender. You shower very thoroughly before you get into the giant hot pool fully naked. Proper etiquette is to not make eye contact or talk to anyone else in the pool. Once bathed, you put on your kimono and take time to relax. I'm told most Japanese people do this twice a day.
We also spent a day exploring an active volcano, Mt. Aso. We had fun walking through the tall grass, watching the horses play, and taking in Japan's natural beauty.Read more